Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Interview with Vincent – Part Four

Vincent2 This is the fourth part of my interview with Vincent. He is relating his experience in a private company in Turkey.

So, then the Tax man came. What was this a regular inspection or..?

I doubt it. All I know is this guy suddenly appears and everybody goes nuts. Some old guy like Boris Karloff. Cheap polyester suit. Brown. With stripes. gray mustache and smelled like the cheapest brand of cigarettes.

Scary image.

Actually I wasn't all that scared. I didn't think I personally had anything to worry about. Everything I had signed was legit as far as I could tell.

What exactly was he looking for?

It didn't matter. Knowing Penguin and his wife, he was bound to find something. Anyway, those guys can always find something. It's their job. Penguin just made it real easy.

The first thing the Tax man said was that I shouldn't be in the office. I was a foreigner and I wasn't allowed to work.

But.. you were a partner in the company, right?


You were not allowed to work at a company you were a partner in?

Shocking isn't it? As a matter of fact, his report didn't actually say I was working. I was merely in the office and suspected of working. But if you had asked me, I would have said that I was working. I thought.. I mean, I was told that it was all perfectly legal. Why would I lie about it?

Let me see if I got this right. You were allowed to be a partner. You are allowed to invest your own money in a company. But you are not allowed to come to the office?

According to what he said. But that's the funny thing about Turkey. There are no laws. Nothing is fixed. It changes depending on who you speak to. Today it is like THIS. Tomorrow you learn it was not like THIS.. who told you that? It is really like THAT.

So what did you do about the tax man?

According to what he said, I would have to pay a fine. I mean two fines. One for me personally. And one for the company. Since the company had hired me illegally.

Your company you mean?


I was plenty upset. Penguin and his wife were upset. In the end, Penguin paid the fines. After all, it was his mistake. Or the lawyer's, I mean. I was told over and over that I was legit. I wasn't a lawyer, I wasn't an expert in Turkish law. How could I know?

If Penguin paid the fines, then what was the problem? Was that the end of it?

Not quite. a month later, the foreigner's office called me. The police, I mean. They said I was to report to them the next morning.


They didn't say. They wouldn't tell me. But I asked Penguin.

And he said..?

Well I asked him if he knew why they might be calling. And his answer was, "No, not really." I just looked at him. Not really? Either you know or you don't.

So you think he must have known?

Of course. Also he kept making excuses why he couldn't pay my full monthly salary. He could only manage half. So I guess he knew something was about to happen. For me, it came out of the blue. And that was when my problems REALLY began.


Part 5 continues next week.

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